Greece: imposing bond losses would be huge mistake

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Restructuring Greece’s massive debt would be a “huge mistake” that would freeze it out of bond markets for another 10-15 years, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said Tuesday.

Imposing losses — or a haircut — on Greek bonds would not solve the country’s financial problems, Papaconstantinou told state-run NET television.

Eurozone member Greece is covering expenses with the help of international bailout loans worth 110 billion ($163 billion) till mid-2013, but remains under heavy market pressure with its economy stuck in recession and national debt set to exceed 150 percent of gross domestic product this year.

Yields on 10-year Greek bonds are currently at nearly 16 percent, compared to the benchmark German rate of 3.25 percent.

“A restructuring, a bond haircut, would be a huge mistake for the country ... It would carry a big cost and no benefit, and it would keep us out of the markets for 10-15 years,” Papaconstantinou said.

Inspectors from the bailout-loan providers — the European Union and International Monetary Fund — are due in Athens Tuesday for a quarterly review of the Greek austerity program.

The government has promised to take Greece out of recession and return to raising money on the bond markets next year to meet financing needs.

On Monday, Papaconstantinou said he favored a second extension of rescue loan repayment, just weeks after the original terms of the deal were improved. The repayment schedule was extended from three to 7 1/2 years and the average interest rate cut by one percentage point to around 4 percent.

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